In addition to this being the first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four without fans in the arena, many of the players on the four teams could not be accompanied to Cologna, Germany, by family or friends, which means that some of the winners of the title on Sunday will be waiting to share their accomplishment with loved ones, as well as fans, at long distance.
As such, many players have already thought about whom they would contact first should they get a chance to celebrate by lifting the EuroLeague trophy on Sunday.
“My father had a hard time this season watching the games from home.”
“The first two people I will call are surely my parents, because in the end, I have a lot of people cheering me up, supporting me and following me, but they are the ones that have a harder time not being here, especially my father,” FC Barcelona captain Pierre Oriola. “My father had a hard time this season watching the games from home, as he couldn’t come to the arena. He is one of the fans who is always there, in all games, and I am sure I will call them two first if we make it to the final and win it.”
For Oriola as for many other finalists – among players, all of them except for his Barcelona teammates Cory Higgins and Nick Calathes – victory on Sunday will mean their first EuroLeague titles and the culmination of long journeys in basketball. For Oriola and his father, that journey started as fans of Barcelona when he was young.
“I suppose it would be even more special because I play for the team that we followed so much during all these years,” Oriola continued. “I am sure he is very proud and, like I said, he is my number one fan. He was able to follow me anywhere, driving his car to any other city in Spain to see me play and spent time with me, even if it was as little as 10 minutes.”
For this season’s MVP, Vasilije Micic of Efes, his first hugs will be in person, and not only because his girlfriend was able to make the trip to Cologne.
“I would hug her first, if we would happen to win the title,” Micic said. “But I also stress my relationship with Krunoslav Simon has grown into a huge friendship, and I would hug him first from pure love. We have similar characters, and he is a very good person. If my girlfriend was not here, it would be him.”
“My wife will be the first person I reach out to.”
Upon hearing of Micic’s plans, Simon laughed and agreed he would have to reciprocate the gesture if they were to win on Sunday.
“I would certainly give him a hug back,” he joked. “This is the third season we are together. We are excellent friends on and off the court. My wife is here, too, but I would give Micic the first hug on the court if we would manage to win it. Then I would go to hug my wife.
“My family has been behind me my whole career, but my wife is the first I would share the moment with and hug her. She has gone through and dealt with most of it with me. She has suffered the most through all the time I have been away. She is the first one to share the moment with.”
For Barcelona center Brandon Davies, his wife also tops the list of the people with whom he would share such a culminating experience, should it happen on Sunday.
“My wife will be the first person I reach out to. She is my biggest fan. She is obviously disappointed she couldn’t be here, and so am I,” Davies said. “Then I would call my mom, and some of my best friends.”
Like Micic and Simon, Davies stressed that he would also relish a title to celebrate the bonds he has built among his Barcelona teammates.
“You build your relationship in your locker room and with the teammates around you. To share an accomplishment with them throughout the season is a memory of a lifetime,” he said. “You can’t get enough of those moments, and life is short, so you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities.”